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Egypt had its first in the history alternative presidential election

Hosni Mubarak is likely to retain the presidential post
September 7, Egypt had the first alternative presidential election over the whole of its history. Official results of the election will be announced on Saturday, but it is highly likely that Hosni Mubarak, 77, who has been ruling the country since autumn of 1981, will retain the presidential position. The opposition has already declared it would not recognize results of the election. But the West obviously ignores statements of the opposition, as western politicians have got used to dealing with Mubarak and they will be quite satisfied if he retains the post. Holding presidential election in Egypt is serious progress for the country.

The whole of the pre-election campaign with pre-election posters, TV and radio addresses of ten candidates to the presidential post turned out to be absolutely amazing for the Egyptian people. This year, they had a chance to vote for candidates to the presidential post for the first time. At the same time, they had to stand strong attacks of black PR: at the very beginning of the campaign the opposition declared the election was falsified. The mufti of Egypt and rector of the Moslem University in their turn spoke about the years of stability when Mubarak was in power thus suggesting that people should vote for his candidature. 

Both sides, followers of the president and opposition candidates violated the voting procedure on the day of the election. Followers of the president touted the candidate standing right before ballot-boxes. Mubarak's most prominent rival Ayman Nour stated his program in a live TV appearance right at the height of the voting. Many voters in Egypt are illiterate and they had to vote by pressing their inked thumbs against paper. That was some special ink to mark fingers of voters so that they could not vote twice.

It was decided to announce official results of the election just on Saturday because the Central Election Committee needs enough time to count ballot-papers of the first in Egypt's history presidential election. Unofficial data show that 70 per cent of the electorate voted for Mubarak. Main rival of the president Ayman Nour says there was some falsification during the election and adds he will even appeal to the Supreme Court against the falsification. Ayman Nour's headquarters reports the appearance made up just 20 per cent, while official sources report it made over 50 per cent.

This presidential election is serious progress for Egypt no matter what results it will bring. Within the past 35 years, a new leader appeared in Egypt only if the previous one died. Close ally of the USSR Gamal Abdel Nasser died in 1970 for some uncertain reasons, and it is still rumored he was poisoned. His successor and Mubarak's predecessor Anwar Sadat was killed by a fanatic Islamist in October 1981 during a military parade in Cairo. The fanatic killed the president because of the signing a peace treaty with Israel. Now, even Islamists did not object to Mubarak's decision to organize national presidential election and let people vote for those candidates they like. In any case, Egypt will have a legitimate president whose successor will be elected at national election as well.

Even though the election procedure in Egypt seemed unusual for western monitors, governments of the US and EU countries reacted calmly to violations of the voting procedure. Within the 24 years of his presidency, Mubarak kept on developing relations with Israel and at the same time has won great authority in the Arab world. He proved to be strong enough not to let local division of al-Qaida and Moslem Brothers develop into real political force. Egypt headed by Mubarak is an absolutely predictable country which is good for its Arab neighbors, Russia and the West.

The living standard of the Egyptian people also considerably improved under Mubarak. It is during his presidency that popular resorts of Hurgada and Sharm ash-Sheikh were built and now bring much income to the budget and provide job for thousands of Egyptians. The country wants to live a quiet life after the past 50 years of various upheavals. That is why the people of Egypt voted for Mubarak. 

Ivan Shmelev

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